Research conducted by the apex industry body along with YES Bank reveals that 1855 million domestic tourist trips were conducted in the year 2019 which amounts to almost 99 percent, while international tourist amounted to 17 million travellers in India.
The latest report launched by the national industry body, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) along with the YES BANK- ‘Rethinking DomesticTourism in Post-Covid World’ gives an insight on the various aspects on the travel and tourism industry and the steps taken by the various central and state government to revive the tourism sector.
The report reveals that the GDP contribution of Travel and Tourism will contract by as high as 62% across the world. “In this direction, the Government of India has structured several initiatives and relief measures to boost the tourism in India. Some of these initiatives includeAtmanirbhar Bharat, DekhoApnaDesh Series, SAATHI Initiative, Launch of NIDHI, Cross Border Tourism and bubble arrangement for visas,” the report mentions.
United National World Tourism Organization (WNWTO) has projected that the tourism recovery to pre-COVID levels could take at least 4 years.
The report explains that revival in the tourism sector is expected to be slow, driven by the underlying dependencies on air travel. “Therefore, countries with inherent domestic destinations, which tourists can visit with the help of personal transportation could witness a quicker recovery,” The report mentions.
Nikhil Sahni, Sr. Group President, Government & Multinational Banking, YES Bank lauded the steps taken by the state governments on the occasion. “Most of the states in India have taken several pro- active steps to get their domestic tourism back on track. Steps in terms of ease of doing business and doing away with a lot of licences to smoothen the process are some of them,” he said.
Sahni explained that the Maharashtra Government has made amendment in their agro- tourism policy in the month of September 2020. “Even the Madhya Pradesh Government has stated this initiative on ‘Workation’- where you can resume your office work and at the same time rejuvenate in one of the scenic location. These initiatives will help in reviving the demand for tourism,” He said.
SujitKanoria, Managing Director, Shristi Hotels Kanoria Foundation, Member ASSOCHAM stated that tourism was one of the sectors which was impacted negatively in the pandemic.
“In India, there are more than 17 million inbound tourists who come to visit the various tourist sports in the country. Due to the lockdown and the restricting of international flights, this has been majorly impacted. However we have more than 24 million Indian tourists who travel abroad and spend almost $25 billion every year. We need to take steps to ensure that we manage to retain or give them options to visits places in India,” He said.
Kanoria explained that we need to look at Survive (short term), Revive (mid-term) and thrive (Long term) factors in the tourism sector. “Tourism is one of the largest employers in the world. In India, it contributes almost 10 percent to the economy. The government needs to ensure that there is a comprehensive policy in place to help the sector grow,” He informed.
Nishat Shah, Managing Director, SITC Group, Member ASSOCHAM explained the open sky policy which India has in place needs to be resumed again. “The aviation policy is very important and creates an impact on all the sectors. Due to the COVID and the subsequent lockdown, flights had to be temporarily suspended. That needs to be opened up fully,” He said.
Shah further added that the government also needs to reduce the GST on the sector to help it revive faster. “The sector has one of the highest GST rates at 18 percent. Travel and tourism is no longer a luxury but a way of life,” He said.
Rattan Keswani, Dy. Managing Director, Lemon Tree Hotels stated that the government needs to come out with a bit more radical steps to help revive the sector. “We believe that around 60 percent of the standalone smaller units may not survive without the intervention,” He said.
Keshwani informed that the hotel industry has faced several challenges operating the sector during the COVID times. “Most hotels were operating at 30 percent lower rates. They have taken huge efforts to ensure that all the guidelines are followed and their brand is not impacted. We believe that the international tourists may take atleast 1-1.5 years more. So we need to concentrate more on the domestic travellers,” He said.
Perminder Jeet Kaur Director ASSOCHAM opened the session with commitment of ASSOCHAM to work with all partners and other industry association to support government initiatives for the sector. She stated that the need of the hour is for all stakeholders to come forward to be part of India’s growth and support innovation in Tourism.